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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, November 5, 2004

Four groups bid for radio licenses

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Staff Writer

At least four groups — including a local radio mogul — are bidding on newly available FM radio broadcast licenses included in a current FCC auction.

Once the licenses are awarded by the Federal Communications Commission, they are expected to alter the Islands' ever-changing radio landscape.

John Detz, president of Maui-based Visionary Related Entertainment LLC, is the lone radio mogul in Hawai'i making bids in an online auction that has gone four rounds and resumed at 3 a.m. today.

At least three other groups are bidding for the licenses.

Detz, who has statewide radio holdings, said he is bidding for seven possible FM frequencies — four on the Big Island, two on Maui, and one on Moloka'i — essentially "to serve underserved areas of the state."

The markets include Captain Cook, Honoka'a, Holualoa and Kurtistown on the Big Island, Ha'iku and Kihei on Maui and Kaunakakai on Moloka'i. Visionary already has radio holdings in Honolulu, and on Maui, Kaua'i and the Big Island.

He has at least three competitors, possibly more, who are bidding for some of the same frequencies. These include Bechtel Broadcasting of Indianapolis, Kona Coast Radio LLC of Wyoming and Idaho, and Big Island Broadcasting of New Orleans.

The FCC planned the FM auction back in 1997 but it was detained several times and finally was launched earlier this week.

A total of 456 bidders are vying for 288 FM sites nationwide.

"It's mostly uncharted waters; no one knows how the bidding will go, and it could run the course of 10 to 20 rounds," said Detz, who added that he made between 30 and 50 bid changes in yesterday's fourth round.

The results will not be announced or posted until all frequencies are locked in by winning bidders — which could take weeks or months.